Co-op wizardly action extravaganza Magicka comes out tomorrow, making this the perfect time for the following public service announcement. You will suck at Magicka. You will be so terrible. You’ll be introduced to its innovative element-mixing system, you’ll nod, smile at the power at your disposal, and then proceed to screw up in a thousand ways you never foresaw. You will kill yourself. You will kill your friends. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll accidentally blow up a monster in the process. Below I’ve outlined five examples of the terrible, terrible errors you will make, in the hope that you won’t make them. But you will.
The spell system in Magicka works as follows. Your character has access to eight elements, (fire, water, ice, earth, lightning, arcane, healing and shield), which are assigned to keys in and around the WASD area of your keyboard. Spells are cast simply by tapping out elements (up to a maximum of 5) and then tapping another button to cast the simultaneously either on yourself, as a projectile, in the area around you or on your sword.
So, if you tap out fire and earth, then hit projectile, your character flings a ball of molten rock. You tap out fire, fire, earth, earth, and the ball will be bigger. If you charge up healing and cast it on your sword, your sword will be imbued with healing magic and the next person you stab will be healed instead of harmed, and so on. There are a few special combinations to be learned too, from raising the dead to summoning a meteor shower.
Things not included in this system are cooldowns, mana or mercy. You cast whatever you like, as fast as you like, and friendly fire isn’t something you worry about so much as it’s an integral and hilarious part of the game. With a full team of four wizards, the screen is a chaotic warzone of well-meaning yet ultimately lethal spells. This said, let’s move onto 5 mistakes you should try not to make.
#1: It’s Freezing
What is technically possible: Deploying a close-range blast of ice to freeze a massive monster in its tracks, allowing one of your friends to quickly throw a rock at the frozen creature to shatter it into a thousand pieces.
What you will do: Deploy a blast of ice to freeze a massive monster in its tracks, allowing one of your friends to fling an unnecessarily large stone at it, only to miss and hit you instead, crushing your frail sorcerer instantly and sending your corpse bouncing clean out of the level. The monster unfreezes, turns and begins chasing your friend around in a Benny Hill style.
#2: My Protector
What is technically possible: Using shield elements with the “area of effect” casting button creates a glittering, impenetrable dome, with plenty of room for the whole team. Need some time to heal? Not sure what to do next? Swamped by goblins? Just throw up a shield and huddle together to discuss your next move.
What you will do: Yell something vague over teamspeak like “GUYS, ME, BUBBLE,” and cast your shield spell with none of your team-mates actually inside it. With no small amount of horror you’ll realise that you did manage to trap a couple of goblins inside with you, though, meaning you need to get out now. Your mind races- what breaks a shield? What’s the most powerful spell you have? Of course! The arcane beam! You charge a real murder-mother of a beam as the goblins bear down on you, release it and... remember that arcane and shield are opposed elements. The beam ricochets cleanly off the inside of your dome, bounces four or five times and finally collides with you, popping your flesh and mind open like a bag of crisps. In time the dome sputters and fades of its own accord, and the two goblins within join the mob attacking your friends.
What is technically possible: Get your whole team to cast spells of water protection on themselves, summon a rainstorm, and blast the bejeezus out of your wettened enemies with lightning blasts while you guys remain toasty dry.
What you will do: The one of you responsible for the complex rainstorm spell screws up the casting and gets a sort of riot-hose effect instead. Another of you screws up the water protection spell, gets splashed by the hose and all the lightning elements he was charging get shunted through his body for massive damage.
#4: Lightsaber Sucking Blues
What is technically possible: Infusing your sword with arcane energy leaves it causing so much damage with such a bright trail that it might as well be a lightsaber.
What you will do: Remembering this, you’ll flood your sword with arcane energy, go sprinting up to the troll that’s been terrorising your group and, with a child’s innocence, watch as the troll slaps you with its cleaver for 5,000 damage before you could even press the attack button. You’re a wizard, not a jedi. Idiot.
#5: Don’t Cross The Streams
What is technically possible: Mixing anything with arcane and then casting it as a projectile creates a tremendous beam of energy. If more than one of you cast these beams and then angle the beams into one another, the beams will become one and damage will be magnified immensely, allowing for the meticulous wholesale slaughter of monsters.
What you will do: Two people from your team will do exactly this. A third member of the team will see what they’re doing and fling a beam of his own into the mix. Amazing! Trembling with excitement, the fourth member of the team will forget the healing spell he was charging and start charging arcane so he can get involved too, neatly forgetting what happens when beams of opposing elements mix. The fourth player’s forgotten healing element infiltrates the choreographed death ray like a murderer creeping in through an unlocked window, causing an epic explosion that kills the entire team instantly.
So there you have it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Actually, I should quickly point out here that any player deaths are rectifiable by a Revive spell, which is simply a mix of Healing and Lightning. You'll be back on your feet and making more mistakes before you know it. Unless you really screwed up, in which case you can probably expect your team "forgetting" to revive you for a minute or ten.
Although really, what I’m looking forward to is you lot posting your own terrible errors in our upcoming Wot I Think of Magicka. We should have that finished by, oh, I’d say first thing Friday.